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Arts of North America

Art created in North America includes objects made by native cultures of the present-day United States and Canada; paintings and decorative arts produced during colonial times; 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces; and the work of contemporary artists and photographers.

American, born Poland, 1885 - 1940
Sketch in Iron

23 1/4 x 13 5/8 x 3/4 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation in honor of Dominique and John de Menil

Arts of North America

Trained in Europe as a traditional blacksmith, metalworker Samuel Yellin was credited in 1912 with reviving the craft of wrought iron in America. As a craftsman, Yellin believed in working out his designs in three-dimensional “sketches” in iron. These small studies show the blacksmith’s process and creativity as “expressed with the hammer.”

Yellin’s ironwork was commissioned for the private homes of the Vanderbilts and the DuPonts as well as for public spaces at Harvard University and the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. This example demonstrates Yellin's extraordinary ability to manipulate metal. The naturalistic tendrils have been hand-pulled, giving the impression that the material is far more pliable than it is in reality.